Friday 20 January 2017

Reviewing the Blends: VAT 69, Clan Campbell, Chivas 12, JW Black 12, Dewars 12, Kenmore 5, Famous Grouse & Whyte & Mackay

Hello, hello everyone!

Well, well, well. Something different for today. It’s the blends. The cheap, mass produced stuff. Yep, there it is, on the bottom shelf, right below all the single malts. Might be why we look down on them.
On the plus side, they are cheap. They are available throughout the world and there doesn’t tend to be much marketing or unnecessary packaging because it would drive the price up.

If you didn’t know, a blended Scotch whisky is a blend of grain whisky (normally around 70%) and malt whisky.
Grain whisky is normally made using wheat, or maize with some malted barley with huge column stills. Whereas malt whisky is made using only malted barley from pot stills.
Grain whisky is usually much lighter and I normally find a young lemon-y note. Malt whisky is normally much more full flavoured and has more character.

Now, I haven’t really tasted many blends because I am a malt snob. There, I said it. I seek out Scotch single malt above all others because it’s what I enjoy. That said, for the money, they can be expensive and it’s rare you get a good bargain these days. Marketing, NAS and price hikes.
Maybe there’s an honesty about blends. Everyone knows that they’ll be 3 years old, everyone knows they’re coloured. No one really cares that much, because it’s what people are looking for in a blend.

So, I’ve got a few basic ones for your reading pleasure now, but warning, some low scores are inevitable.
VAT 69 40%
Colour: E150a
Body: Light
Nose: Very very grainy, some light lemon and sour green apple.
Taste: Again, very grainy, almost a grainy/gritty mouthfeel as well (In a bad way). Zesty with lemon and green unripe apple.
Finish: Short length. Grainy gritty lemon.
Diageo export blend. Very young, 90% or more grain I think.

Clan Campbell 40%
Colour: E150a
Body: Light
Nose: Light, fruity and grainy. Very light fruit- Apple and pear. Quite Aberlour.
Taste: Grainy, sharp, then more smooth with apple and pear and building sour lemon.
Finish: Short length. Grainy spirit and lemon, very little vanilla.
Pernod Ricard export blend. Think there's some young Aberlour in there.

God, these export blends are awful. Let’s try some home turf.
Chivas Regal 12 40%
Colour: E150a
Body: Light
Nose: Lots of honey, fruit, bit of spice, sugar.
Taste: Sweet and light. Fresh fruit, apple, bit of honey, barley malt, grain, herbal note- Cloves and tea leaves. Some salt.
Finish: Short length. Salt and oak.
Another Pernod blend, but more malt I think. The age helps.

Johnnie Walker Black Label 12 40%
Colour: E150a
Body: Medium
Nose: Marzipan, toffee, almonds. Different every time- Sometimes waxy, salty, smoky or very sweet. Talisker and Coal Ila very recognisable.
Taste: Hint of smoke, vanilla and Sherry. Fruity, some spice. Caol Ila creamy smoke, lemon sherbet, grassy smoke.
Finish: Medium length. Smoke, bit of spice, vanilla and toffee.
Very malt driven with the smoke. I like this for a blend, a classic.

Dewars 12 40%
Colour: E150a
Body: Medium
Nose: Aberfeldy-esque, honey, nuts, spice, some sherry.
Taste: Honey, spice, heather, grain whisky developing with young lemon and a solvent note.
Finish: Medium length. Harsh grain alcohol and tannins.
An unfortunate one. Not every age statement is a good one.

Kenmore 5 40%
Colour: E150a
Body: Light
Nose: Sherried, malt, grain, toast, butter, lemon, a little oil and earth.
Taste: Creamy and thin, not much development, sweet sherried malt, toast, then lemon-y grain. A little grain alcohol into the finish.
Finish: Medium length. Sour lemon-y grain.
A Burn-Stewart one from M&S. Bunnahabhain, Deanston and Tobermory probably making up the malt component. Mentions ‘lightly peated’ on the bottle.

The Famous Grouse 40%
Colour: E150a
Body: Light/Medium
Nose: Sweet, great balance of malt and grain, heather, honey, toffee, some sherry. Highland Park does spring to mind.
Taste: Thin arrival, heather honey building with light smoke and sweet sherry. Lemon-y grain into the finish.
Finish: Medium length. Lemon grain and some heathery spice.
Not bad, not bad at all. Surprised by this one. Edrington group blend, owners of HP and Macallan, although I doubt there’s much in here.

Whyte & Mackay 40%
Colour: E150a
Body: Medium
Nose: Sherry sweetness, raisin and coffee, cherry, doughy Jura with some soft smoke. A little floral- Tamnavulin? Lemony grain underneath but quite malt forward.
Taste: Sweet and sherried, stewed fruit and raisin, cherry, mint, again the lemony grain is behind it. A little building harsh alcohol.
Finish: Short length. More grainy with lemon.
It's ok! Marriage in Sherry casks might not be bullshit. Really, a big surprise for me as I really wanted to dislike this.

Well, maybe that’s enough for now. Thanks for reading, if you managed it!

Reviews #288-#295

Network Average: 74.9
Best Score: 92
Worst Score: 44
0-49 Terrible
50-59 Bad
60-64 Just about OK
65-69 Ok to Good
70-74 Good
75-79 Very Good
80-84 Excellent
85-89 Superb
90+ Magnificent

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